It was a tale of two halves for the Starkville Yellowjackets in the season opener against Greenwood last Saturday.
When it comes to facing the Meridian Wildcats tonight at the Beehive, SHS boys coach Greg Carter wants a more complete effort.
The Yellowjackets established a 12-point lead in the first half before losing a 61-58 decision in the West Point Classic.
"I thought we played real well in the first half," Carter said. "We did a lot of things well, but just didn't build on it in the second half. We came out in the second half and weren't as sharp offensively or defensively."
Starkville is without several players who helped the team reach the state tournament the last three years.
Even one of the seniors in Ravonte' Gandy is out due to an injury, so Carter knows this season is going to be a learning process.
"Everything is going to be new to them," Carter said.
Zeb Rice led the Jackets with 15 points, while Richard Evans added 13 and Dontavious Self contributed 10.
Carter knows it will take continued scoring from those players on a consistent basis for SHS to win games this season.
"We have kids this year who just haven't played," Carter said.
For the Lady Jackets, a 67-65 overtime loss to Greenwood has coach Kristie Williams encouraged.
"Greenwood was a tough team, a team that made the playoffs in 4A last year, so we knew going in it was going to be a challenge," Williams said. "If we had minimized some of our carelessness, the outcome could have been in our favor, but the overall effort was tremendous."
Starkville has a mix of newcomers and established veterans this season. Coming in are guards Blair Schaefer, the daughter of Mississippi State women's coach Vic Schaefer, and Destiny Belle from New Orleans, La., to go along with senior Kelsye Reed and junior Imane Montgomery on the inside.
Williams said it's going to take a strong effort out of all of those players to counter what Meridian brings with Dandy Dozen member Kayla Gordon.
"If we play as hard as we did against Greenwood, I'm expecting a great turnout as far as a win," Williams said.
Tipoff for junior varsity action tonight is set for 5 p.m., while the varsity girls game starts at 6 p.m. The boys take the court at approximately 7:40 p.m.